How Ellie Got Out Of The Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle As A Six Figure Earner

Money Files

On today’s episode, I chat with my client, Ellie. I love sharing client stories and relatable examples that show what financial coaching is all about. Ellie’s situation is relatable to every 6-figure earner that struggles with managing their finances. 

Despite several significant raises and cementing herself as a 6-figure earner, Ellie could not escape the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Like many other high income earners, she thought making more money automatically meant she would have more money. But in order to get control of her finances, Ellie and I needed to create a strategy that aligned her money and personal goals.

Listen in as Ellie shares how a different approach to budgeting has helped her gain  more security with her finances. She went from spending impulsively on material items to purposely planning for future expenses, confidently paying down debt, and consistently contributing over $500 a month to her  emergency fund. I hope you get inspired by Ellie’s newfound financial freedom and gain a proper understanding of how financial coaching can change your life. 

Listen to this episode as Ellie answers questions to her experience…

[00:02:48] When you were thinking about one-on-one coaching, what did you know that you wanted or needed from this experience?

[00:07:15] What is your experience like spending money since we’ve been working together?

[00:32:40]  How are you feeling about [the potential of] getting back into debt after you have paid it off?

[00:33:30] What are the tools that you have now that you know will support you?

Tune in to this episode of Money Files as Ellie and I discuss her journey to financial freedom.

Are you ready to start asking for help with your finances? Apply to work with me, and let’s start working towards your financial goals.


Transcript for “How Ellie Got Out Of The Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle As A Six Figure Earner”

Keina: Hi and welcome to Money Files. I’m Keina Newell from Wealth Over Now. I work every day with professional women and solopreneurs to help them get out of financial overwhelm and shame so they can experience more flexibility and ease with their finances. Are you ready to gain confidence and learn to manage your finances intentionally? Tune in and grab financial tips that will help you master the way you think about and manage your finances.

Keina: Hello and welcome back to another episode of Money Files. So today I have my client, Ellie, with me and I’m really excited because I just like talking to clients and every time I’m like in a coaching session, I really just wish that they could be streamed to like the masses because I want people to know that money can be simple and money can be easy and I feel like Ellie is a prime example of the result of what financial coaching is. So thank you Ellie for joining me. 

Ellie: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m very excited. 

Keina: You want to go ahead and introduce yourself? 

Ellie: Yeah I’m Ellie. I’ve been working with Keina since January of this year, of 2023 I guess. I just decided at the end of 2022, I had gotten this kind of like series of significant salary increases and as I was getting those salary increases I wasn’t really seeing my debt go down or my savings go up the way that I thought I would. So I kind of just decided it was time for a change and I needed to get a handle on things. And I have. 

Keina: I love it. I’m actually, I was telling you that I was going to pull up your intake form. And by intake form it’s like whenever people apply to work with me, they fill out an application and you found me through Google, which I’m always fascinated. I’m like what are you googling that leads you to me? I googled, I wanted someone who was in DC, I wasn’t sure if it would be virtual or not but that was my preference because I think that if you don’t know how expensive living in a city like DC is, you maybe don’t have the empathy that I needed. I really wanted to work with a woman and I just was really drawn in by what your website was and everything about it.

Keina: I love it. Do you remember what you searched? 

Ellie: I think I searched financial coach DC. Yeah, maybe something about one-on-one. I saw a lot come up that was like here’s like a 45 minute lesson and it was pretty expensive for a 45 minute like webinar basically. And so I really wanted the one-on-one coaching. 

Keina: Let’s just dive in from there. Like when you were thinking about one-on-one coaching, like what did you know that you wanted or needed? 

Ellie: The first thing that was kind of top of mind was I really needed to figure out what was happening where I would pay off, put a couple hundred dollars towards my credit card every month and nothing would happen I felt because on the back end of the pay period I was still putting a bunch of like food out or groceries that I couldn’t afford and that kind of thing on. So yeah, I just could not pay down my credit card debt. And I also wanted to build up my savings I think was another big goal I had. 

Keina: So before working with me, like tell us how you managed your finances. 

Ellie: Yeah, so I used YNAP you need a budget and I mostly used it at the beginning of the month to say my biggest concern was like having enough set aside for rent and for utilities so I would do that. I used it to kind of see how much I was putting in savings but then the rest of it was really broad categories and I wasn’t planning for the future at all. I felt like everything I was doing budgeting wise was just to catch up from the previous pay period where I had like kind of overspend by either $100 or like $500 and I really had no idea how much I’d overspent by. So that was my primary method and it worked okay. I think grand’s scheme, I wasn’t in maybe as bad shape as I thought I was but I definitely didn’t have like a handle on things. 

Keina: So I know originally when you came to me you were using YNAP which I was like great. I like YNAP because you can give every single dollar a name in the system. And then I also had given you a spreadsheet which ultimately you ended up canceling YNAP. And then now you just use the spreadsheet that I gave you but what would you say, what was like the difference in between YNAP and looking at money maybe in the way that we went through and looked at your finances? 

Ellie: I think kind of like I said on YNAP I had everything in like the most general categories like I even had a category that was like stuff I didn’t budget for that I would assign like $150 to every month because I was like, I don’t know what it’s for but I know I’m going to use all of it. So I would say the biggest challenge of this whole thing we’ve done is those first couple of weeks where it was like you’ve narrowed down every single thing you are going to spend on or you need to spend on in like this week, this month, the next year I would come to you and be like, I did it. And you’d be like, okay well just what about this one thing that’s really important? I’d be like, oh okay. So I think that perhaps I could have gotten there with YNAP if I had been as meticulous as that, but at the end of the day I had it all in your spreadsheet and I just like the setup of the spreadsheet better. I think on YNAP you put in the merchant you purchased your item from and I’m like I don’t need to deal with all of that. Was it dining out? Was it groceries? And then just go from there. 

Keina: Yeah and like let’s go back to this whole category thing, because I remember very early on I was asking you about gifts, which is something that I ask a lot of my clients about because that’s not a monthly bill but even if you don’t love gift giving, I feel like it’s one of those things that we all do, like whether it’s a baby shower or whatever. But I feel like that’s one of the categories at least that sticks out to me where you were like I mean I guess I kind of give gifts but not really, little things like that I feel like we found that like you wanted to like set aside money for. 

Ellie: And the gifts, I mean I was just thinking about you this weekend because it was Mother’s Day and I was planning to like help my mom clean out her storage unit as the present but then we had to cancel or like reschedule it so I was like oh my god, there’s no present. So I invited her down for brunch and I was able to cover like the flowers, all the food, all the Prosecco for brunch just from that money I’d been setting aside. So you were right as usual.

Keina: But like how have you experienced spending money since we’ve been working together on things that probably still don’t feel planned? Because mom wasn’t supposed to come down for brunch, you were supposed to help her with her storage unit, which is like a shift which I think all of us could relate to like I was going to do this but now I’m doing this. So like yeah how has it felt to spend money? 

Ellie: I think there’s definitely an element of it where now I have so much more awareness of what’s going on in my budget that just naturally I’m kind of like, well I don’t need to spend the money on that right now. Or like I was definitely a person who would see something on Instagram and be like, oh the ad is up now, I’ll just buy it right now. And now I’m like, well I could just take a screenshot of the product and then buy it like when I have that bucket refilled next pay period or something. So I think it’s made me more cautious, not necessarily in like I don’t need this kind of way, but maybe I don’t need it right now thinking. And something that was really hard for me at the beginning that maybe is still a little bit hard for me is one month I might spend more eating out and then my grocery budget has leftover money and just knowing that I can take from grocery to cover the eating out and the next month it might feel different has been a big step.

I think before I was thinking very like the money goes in this bucket and it has to stay there and really that’s only the case for a couple of things in my budget because I’m like saving up throughout the year, that kind of thing. What are some of the things that you’ve maybe stopped spending on, but things that you’ve started to spend on? I have definitely scaled back the amount I’m spending on clothing. I used to go to, I did this the other day, I went to the Old Navy website and I said okay, I need to make a return. And then I was like, well that’s cute and that’s cute and that’s cute. And normally I would’ve been like, alright, I’m just going to buy it all. And now I was like no I came here for the return, I need to like maybe next pay period I can do that.

But I just need to like focus on the one thing. So yeah, I think that has been kind of a shift and I think through kind of a combination like the pandemic largely ended and we started working together and I started seeing money accumulate in my savings account and I didn’t realize before how big of a priority travel would be for me. And now I feel like I have more agency because of the financial freedom I have to be like, well oh my friends don’t want to like come to England with me, I’m going to go alone. Like I’ll just do it and I can pay for it. So I think being able to think like I’m not waiting on anybody else now I can do it myself has been like a big step. 

Keina: Yeah. I love that for you. One of the other things that I remember, Ellie, I don’t know, it’s funny, the things I remember about certain clients, I remember you had like a eucalyptus subscription.

Ellie: Yes. 

Keina: The start stop. It made me think about just like when you were talking about financial awareness and I’m not telling you like Ellie don’t use Eucalyptus anymore, but I just remember you talking me through like I think I want to cancel that because it’s not actually fulfilling me in the way that I thought it was going. It’s like not creating the spa experience that Google sold me or Instagram sold me. And so I want to repurpose or reuse or reshift, whatever you want to say, that money that I was spending and who cares if it’s like 10, 20 whatever dollars, but I want to use that towards some other area of my life and I would like want to pick up another subscription.

Ellie: Yeah, that was kind of a big thing. The subscription canceling process was also very long for me. I think when I looked at all of the subscriptions I had, I mean I had two New York Times subscriptions I was paying for through different emails I had no idea about. So I think when I got my first paycheck when I moved to DC I was like I’m going to sign up for all of these things that are very aspirational. It’s like, well I haven’t read the New York Times in like nine months. I don’t even know what my password is for either account. So I think there was a lot of stuff that I was thinking to myself before like okay well that’s just $6 a month, like that really isn’t going to mean anything. And just through seeing how those little pieces added up, I know it really does mean something or maybe it’s not like going to help me pay off my credit card debt but then that $18 I spent on Eucalyptus, well I can put that in my cosmetics budget for the month. And now I get to like buy some more makeup or cover something else. 

Keina: And like I remember one coaching call, you came back and you were like, I hired another coach and you spent like $400 a month for like, I don’t know, like four to six months, something like that. 

Ellie: Yeah. And actually since then I have kind of made another loftier purchase on another like a third kind of coaching thing. And I think when I came to you I thought to myself like okay well I can kind of pay someone to help me fix this aspect of my life and now I really have the freedom to be like, I can keep doing that. I want to keep paying someone to like help me in this area or like I can go see a doctor who’s out of my network because I like vibe with them better. And just being able to say like that is an expensive purchase but I can find it somewhere in my budget has been a big change.

Keina: Yeah. While you also keep like your other financial goals I feel like, like working. For anyone listening, Ellie came to me as a six figure earner and I feel like we got out the plan altogether. Like what would you say your financial goals were when you like first started working with me? 

Ellie: Paying off my debt. I had I think like 9 or 10 K on a credit card and then another seven or eight on a personal loan. And so I knew that was like, I had to get rid of that and I haven’t done that but I’ve made some great strides to doing it and I will be doing it very soon I think. And now I know that once I’ve paid those things off I’m in a free up like almost a thousand dollars a month. That’s a big motivator. But that was definitely one. And then I think increasing my savings. I knew I needed to beef up my emergency savings and that’s definitely been something we’ve worked a lot on even in just a goal setting way. And then, yeah, I just didn’t know where my money was going and I wasn’t having very much fun with it. Like I knew I was making the six figure salary but I wasn’t getting to like travel more and buy really nice clothes like I thought that someone who made that much should be doing. 

Keina: Because I remember you telling me like when we were on a consult together that it’s like you felt like you were like living in this paycheck to paycheck cycle and then when we got into coaching, I remember asking you how much are you used to having, like tell me about like your experience in between paydays, like how much do you generally have in your bank account? And I think you told me something like maybe I have like $200 in my bank account in between paydays or something like that. 

Ellie: Yeah, I mean I would have, maybe I wasn’t honest with you about this because I was embarrassed, I don’t know. But I would have like even in like December right before we started working together, sometimes like $30 or $40 in my account just like kind of waiting for payday. And while I had that little money sitting there, I was still spending money. I was just putting it all on my credit card and I was not tracking it so that like with my next paycheck I would pay it off. I was like I’ll just throw a lump sum at it and see what happens. 

Keina: That’s the dangerous part, like anybody listening, if you are like Ellie and you’re like with my next paycheck I’m going to pay it off. But that next paycheck it has a job already. You just haven’t acknowledged that it has a job. And because you’re out there spending and you’re like, oh but with the next paycheck, but with the next paycheck, like do you have that language anymore?

Ellie: No. Well I think the major shift has been if I’m thinking I’m going to do that with the next paycheck, I’m not already spending the money. I’m like going to wait until the next paycheck is in my bank account before I then buy whatever the thing I needed to wait on was. Yeah. I’m not like just saying like okay I hope my credit card has room on it if I go out to dinner with my friends anymore. I mean I have gotten pretty good at saying no to things that I know like don’t really fit my budget. Yeah I think that’s been a big change. 

Keina: And like I did hear you say earlier like I can wait for the next paycheck but you were talking about like in your bucket kind of categories you were saying like oh the next paycheck I know I’m setting aside, I’m just making up a number here, $150 for clothes. So like I can go back to Old Navy and if I want to spend that money then I can, which is much different than I’ll just figure it out on my next paycheck and you’ve kind of like already done the work but you also haven’t considered all of the other things, all of the other financial obligations you have. 

Ellie: Yeah. And once you factor those in, I often find like I keep this kind of running list of like things I want to buy on my phone because I forget what they are and I’m often like, oh you know, I don’t really want that anymore. Or like, yeah, it’s just not worth it now that everything’s been portioned out from my new paycheck, I see like what I have and it’s not important to me anymore. 

Keina: And it sound like you’ve also developed some other ways in which you like actually want to invest in your life, which I think for a lot of us getting clothes is like a nice like instant kind of gratification but like investing in changing your life, whether it’s like, hey I want to like work with a coach on my fitness or if I want to work with coach on nutrition or money or dating or any of those things. So they may be larger investments that you’re making but when you kind of put the other investments to the side where you’re talking about New York Times or like things that you’re not actually using but you think that they’ll make you feel a certain way, it feels nice to have cleared the space to actually think about how do you want to spend your money in a way that actually fulfills your life, not just in like a materialistic type of way, but also thinking about like the best version of you that you want to become over the next six months to a year. 

Ellie: Yeah, definitely. I think, yeah like with this new coaching that I kind of subscribed to while we have been working together, I just never would’ve been able to even contemplate affording it before. And so even just being able to think like, oh well I could move some things around in my budget and make that work. And like I did end up taking a little bit from my clothing budget to make that work and a few other like more discretionary spending places and I haven’t noticed any difference in not being able to spend an extra 50 bucks on clothes. Yeah, the benefit of the expensive coaching I’m doing is resonating in my life more than I thought it would. So it does feel good to be able to think like how does what I’m spending my money on align with my personal goals for myself. 

Keina: Yeah. What were your thoughts? So I think you told me that this was the most that you’ve ever invested, right? Like working with me. 

Ellie: Yes, absolutely.

Keina: You guys should see your face, she’s like, yep. What made you make the decision to say like, yes, because know that not just you, there’s a number of my clients, like you came to me in about $20,000 of debt. And so I’m like, Hey Ellie, you want to work with me, pay me money but like what were your thoughts about investing in coaching? Like how did you feel on the consult? Like I’m curious, I don’t think I’ve asked you. 

Ellie: Yeah, it felt like a lot of money and there was one portion of it where I thought to myself so I ended up using money from a Christmas bonus to pay for the coaching. And I thought like okay, well I can either put this money towards my credit card and then in five months, which is how long the coaching lasts, I will probably be back in a similar position and then be just kind of counting down the days till my next bonus to cover that or I can pay you to help me and in five months maybe I won’t have my debt paid off, but I’ll have like this strategy for paying it off. And that’s kind of exactly what’s happened. And I will say, I was just kind of like, Keina seems great, I really want to work with Keina and I don’t know what it is, but like I trust that at the end of this it’ll work out and it has.

Keina: I love it because you did just meet me on Google. 

Ellie: Yes, I told a couple people in my life I was doing this and they were like Oh my God, ok. And I was like, you haven’t met her, you don’t know her. She’s great. And I met her for an hour. Yep. I know her so. It felt like kind of a risk but I just think I was at like the end of my rope in terms of like I didn’t know how to handle what I was dealing with and what I was dealing with was this like amazing blessing of having been given like two sizable promotions that I was like, I don’t know how to handle this. 

Keina: Yeah. Because you were making, like we go back to last year, in August you were making like $99,000, is that what you told me?  

Ellie: Yeah and before that I had been making 70 and then got this big jump to 90 and then six months later a big jump to one 110. And then I just was like, why isn’t my debt going down and my savings going up and I hadn’t changed any of my habits?

Keina: Yeah, I think that that’s a common misconception is that if you make more money you’ll have more money but there’s like lifestyle creep because we all like want things as we make more money. You’re like, oh so now that I, especially like now that I’m making six figures I can do, you know, fill in the blank, I should be able to go to Europe every month. I should be able to go and pay for rounds of drinks and go to brunch every weekend. And so like the things that you feel like you couldn’t do when you were making less money, you start to say yes to those things. I’m not saying like lifestyle creep is good or bad, but if you’re unaware then you are stuck in this place where you’re like you just said like I don’t know where my money is going and here I am a six figure earner but I’m still in this paycheck to paycheck cycle and it doesn’t feel like it’s getting better.

Ellie: Yeah. And I think you just said this, that you’re making more money so it feels like you should be getting more money and this, so I just got a raise and I’ll get my first paycheck with that raise this Friday and this is the first time that I really feel like I am going to actually notice having more money. Like I’ve already got a plan for where I’m going to be putting that money. Some of it’s fun, some of it’s like my emergency fund, but I’m not thinking to myself like oh thank God I’ll be making more money so I can cover X, Y, Z thing that I’m not currently in control of. I’m like in control of everything in my budget. This is just like good now. 

Keina: It’s like bonus money. When you actually have the foundational numbers in place, like making more money is like no, no, no. But I’m like, like you said, like I made more money. 

Ellie: Yeah. I’m actually going to like see it in every paycheck and be like, oh that’s right. Now I contribute like hundreds more dollars to my emergency fund when before it would’ve been like, okay, that’ll cover some debt and then in four months I’ll see and then it’s like it’s done now. 

Keina: Also Ellie just kind of nonchalantly said that she got a raise and one of the things that we did when we worked together and we’re still working together I guess I should say, is that I had her make like a dream budget. So thinking about like where are you now, where do you want to be? Because one of the things you talked to me about when we were also talking in one of the sessions is like you want to be in a position to like buy a home. You also wanted to be in a position to financially help your mom if you needed to. Like those types of financial security were important to you. So after we get a budget, like for your personal life, I wanted you to also think about like where you wanted to go, but how did it feel to like do that dream budget? 

Ellie: It felt totally unattainable at first. I was seeing you say, you were like, well you could contribute, I think the number was like 1200 a month to your emergency fund. And I was like, if I had that much extra money a month, I would not be contributing it to emergency fund. I’d be like covering other things and now I’m like, oh well when that’s happening, like I won’t be putting money towards debt because I’ll have my debt paid off and I will just kind of have this extra like $800 to $1000 a month and yeah, I’m going to make it so that I’m contributing $1,200 a month to my emergency fund and it won’t be a problem for me.

So I think that I just could not understand how those numbers were going to work and I was like, I have to be making like $400,000 a year to make that work. And now I’m like oh no, okay, it’s going to work. And I think we kind of went through the same thing with maxing out your 401k, the conversation around that. I thought that was for people making half a million dollars a year and it was like no one I knew was doing it. And now with my most recent raise, my plan is to max out my 401k and it doesn’t feel like a lift at all. It just feels like a natural next step. 

Keina: Yeah, I love that so many things seemed unattainable to you. But because we got the numbers in place, they’re now like more attainable. Like you’re shifting into the person that doesn’t have to make half a million dollars a year to max out their retirement or to save over a thousand dollars a month. And how did having that dream budget though help like your salary negotiation conversation, which I should back up and say like Ellie came to me and I feel like we had talked about her making more money and she’s like, oh yeah, later on this year I can get a raise and I like just got a raise. But then she saw like a window of opportunity to go ahead and ask for a raise. So how did that kind of unfold? And then also deciding what you wanted to ask for. Like just tell us all the thoughts in your head. 

Ellie: Yeah, so I think the area of my mind where asking for this raise lives in is the same area of me being like, sure, I’ll just give you this money to coach for me. We’ve met for one hour. Like yeah this seems like a good idea. My irrational part of my brain can’t get me there but I need to do this for myself. And so for us to be able to talk about what number sounds good and even for you to kind of look at me and be like, yes, that number sounds good. That’s not crazy for you to ask for that was hugely beneficial. So we talked about asking for the raise, there was this kind of window of opportunity for me at my work and that was what brought me to talk to you about it. And I also felt pretty strongly that I wanted to get this raise while you and I were still working together so that I could like just see how that worked. We’re almost at the end of our time, like we have already discussed what will happen when I get bonuses and like any little bits of extra income that I really wanted to see what would work to like actually plan out a new salary.

And I settled on the number. I think given the history I had at my work of how much they had been giving me, that seemed like the right number. And I also just kind of had to believe that like this was worth it and that even if that wasn’t the number I was going to get, they weren’t going to like laugh in my face about it. That was a big concern of mine that they were just going to be like, no that’s crazy. I did do some research into what other people kind of in my position would be making and I did have this conversation with my boss that didn’t go exactly the way maybe I thought it would, but I pushed myself to be like, what are the salary bands for this position? And really tried to get him to kind of say before I set a number, which ended up not working out but I would do it again in a different workplace for sure. I think my work is like kind of casual and it’s like not a corporate exactly environment. So it was a little bit more of a casual process to ask for the raise, but I think that now I have these skills that you and I have talked about to like assess how much I should be making that I would take to whatever my next job is, that kind of thing. 

Keina: And how much did you end up making? 

Ellie: I landed on 135, which feels crazy to say. I mean I think earlier on you and I had talked about what is like the limit of what you would ask for that you feel like makes sense for you to make. And I was like there is no limit, they should be paying me everything. And then when it came down to it I was like maybe like 3K more than I was making. So I ended up asking for 130 and they came back to me and said 135, which was like, better than the best case scenario. So I’m really glad I did it. 

Keina: And I mean I always love walking people through these conversations too because then what happened, I feel like we could go back to your numbers and be like what does 135 do for your life? And I loved, so Ellie came back to our next coaching call, she was like, okay Keina, I reworked my budget, I’m going to max out my 401k. And I was like, oh my goodness Ellie have been paying attention to me? And I’m excited for you maxing that out because I mean we talked about like if you prioritize that now all of the money that you have is like yours now. Like you don’t ever have to think about continuing to increase the like max out portion of your 401k. Of course you need to adjust it as like the IRS numbers need to adjust, but your net take home pay is like your net take home pay that you get to spend on travel or like the other things that bring you joy. 

Ellie: Yeah, no, it feels really good and it feels good that my first thought when I knew I was going to be getting the raise was like, oh great, I’ll max out my 401k. And then I was like, I’ll just see what’s left over. And I knew I would be fine even if it was going to be like $100 left over because my money was already working for me, maybe not the way I want it to be working for me in a year from now. But right now it was working and it was like getting me towards some goals. So yeah, this really just feels like kind of gravy at this point that I can now like really be like my emergency fund is going to get built up no problem and my 401k as well. 

Keina: And going back to your debt, I feel like we got your spending in order and then we used a balance transfer. So that was one of the things that we leveraged. And so, like I had you write out a plan, we wrote out a plan together to be like, alright, March, 2024, like one of the credit cards should be fully paid off because we figure out how we can put extra money towards it. And then I can’t remember with the personal loan the date that we had on that, but like in the next year and a half you’re going to be completely debt free. And that’s another thousand plus dollars that you’re like using to pay down debt that you get to give back to yourself. And that doesn’t include like any bonuses. Like if you get a bonus and you decide you want to put it towards debt, you can, but this is just you working the money that you have. 

Ellie: Yeah. And like something that was really helpful for me was that financial boundaries sheet that we filled out, which had many things on it, including if I want to spend $200, for me it’s always going to be like an event or concert tickets. If I want to spend that much I have to wait x amount of days before doing so. But one of the parts of it was like when you get extra money, how will you split it up percentage wise? And just knowing that I’m going to put 50% towards debt, even if it’s, I participated in a research study and got like $250 bucks from it and I was like, I’m not going to waste this. I’m going to put some of it to debt, some in savings and then like a little bit extra for fun. Having the little bit extra for fun is like a key for me. I need that little like treat. But I also feel good knowing that I’m not using any extra income to cover things that I didn’t have covered in the first place. 

Keina: How are you feeling about like once you pay off your debt this time getting back into debt? 

Ellie: I do feel nervous about it. I was thinking about that this weekend I’m close to, so we did the balance transfer for my like 10 K of credit card debt to a zero interest card. And I ended up having I think like 2000 left on my bigger interest card. So I’m almost done, like midsummer I’m be done paying that off and I am kind of like, that will be a real test for me to see once I have like no balance on that. If I build it back up, that’s a credit card I want to keep using because it gives me airline miles. So a big challenge I think will be using the credit card but keeping track of what I’m putting on it and like making sure that’s all included in my budget and paying it off and all of that so that I don’t build the debt back up. I feel nervous. 

Keina: What are the tools that you have though that you know will support you? 

Ellie: I think knowing that I have my twice weekly money date in place does make me feel better. Like I do go through my finances on Tuesdays and Fridays and even today I was like, oh well I know like I should go through. And then I thought, nope, I’m just going to leave it until tomorrow and I’m no longer worried about overdrafting or anything like that. So I know that I can’t just leave it until tomorrow when I have my regular weekly money day or twice weekly and I’ll handle it then. So yeah, I think keeping track that way will be helpful. And just like generally I have more visibility over what I’m spending now than I used to. So I do think it will be different. I just need to see it to believe it, I guess. 

Keina: I also know it will be different, Ellie, like it’s like in March when you were like Keina, I’m like, I’m spending so much money and I was like, Ellie we’re like just getting into the plan. It’s okay, I promise. And you were like, no, I’m overspending. And I’m like, okay, so tell me if this month is like normal or not normal, is this like a normal month for you or like how are you feeling? And now I haven’t heard you say anything about overspending in April. I feel like you’re like, okay, alright, I’m fine.

Ellie: Yeah. I’m like, oh, I’ve been spending too much. Like right now I’m thinking to myself like, okay, well I know my dining out budget is actually getting a little bit low for this pay period and I’m going to go over for sure, but I now have the tools to tell myself like, and that’s fine, if you go over it’s fine. The money is like there, you just have to like look elsewhere. And yeah, I don’t know. I think that I’m just an anxious person that is going to stick around for a while, but now I’m able to talk to myself and say like, no, you’re going to be okay. You actually have the tools. This is like old fears.

Keina: I feel like you got to get comfortable in like new clothes basically. Like a new size. Because also something that you said in our last coaching call when we were talking about your raise and I was saying like, hey, I can’t remember if I said I would love to see you save like a thousand dollars a month I think is the number I gave you. And I was like, and here’s how I see that happening. Like I was telling you like if you pay off your credit card, you could do this and then this could happen. And then like let’s make sure we set new emergency fund goals. And I remember you made a comment about putting more money towards travel. Do you remember your comment? 

Ellie: I think so. I felt kind of like I had to say to you maybe like, well I could move some of that money from travel to emergency funds because with my new salary. I mean I think I’m adding like $400 a month to my emergency fund. 

Keina: I feel like you’re close to five now, if I’m not mistaken. 

Ellie: Yeah, I’m planning to add a lot, I can’t remember exactly, but a lot from my new salary and then it was like, okay, I’ll just give myself like $75 extra a month for travel. And I was like, will that make or break me? Like I don’t know. And actually that’s something I really appreciated about this coaching that I wasn’t prepared for, is you’re like, no, we’ll just make it work. Like you should have the things you want to have and money should be working for you and be fun for you and maybe you just think twice before making that purchase and then maybe you still make it later, but it’s ok. I don’t know, it’s been more flexible. 

Keina: Yeah. I feel like there’s like flexibility and like being able to have some like fluidness to things. And so hearing you talk about travel, I’m like, Ellie, first off, once you get paid your new salary, I was like, you’ve already told me that you’re going to fully max out your 401k. We have a plan to pay off your credit card debt and that’s like a 0% interest. Not like they’re adding a whole bunch of money to your credit card debt. And I was like, yes, you can spend money on travel. So I think it’s also losing, like I’m doing the wrong thing with my money. Like that mentality that you’ve been friends with for so long because you didn’t feel like you knew where your money was going and you were living like paycheck to paycheck. So for anyone listening, it’s funny because I think that we think making more money will solve everything, but there’s really this emotional aspect to it as well, which is why I love like the one-to-one coaching container that I have because we get to go back and forth and I get to know all of my clients I feel like in a very personal way where I’m like, no, you said you wanted to eat french toast every Monday or whatever that is, right? And so like how do we make that happen? And then also balancing those other goals you have for yourself. 

Ellie: Yeah. It has been very collaborative and I think that you got to know me really quickly. I also think that I’m like a person who knows how to like have these kind of conversations and like talk about my feelings and that. But as you really got to know me, you were able to be like call me on my bullshit maybe a little bit more. And that was like so helpful for me even for you to be like, well was this a big spending month? Or like, is this how it normally is? I was like, well no, it’s not how it normally is and you could be like, okay then it’s fine. Like I don’t know but just kind of your attitude about it was very helpful to me.

Keina: Yeah. I’m like we’re going to make it. We’re going to make it. And I think that’s the energy and mindset that I want to gift to anybody that I work with because there are inevitably going to be things that you’re like, oh this is new, like I want to buy a house or we’ve like even talked about you. Like if you do want to buy a house, what does that look like? If you don’t want a roommate anymore, what does that look like? And so I want you to be equipped with the thought of like, I can figure it out instead of like living in this place of like scarcity. Because even, I mean we have a couple more coaching sessions and you know the next place I’m going with you is that you don’t have to earn less money because Ellie alluded to the fact that maybe she would earn less money at some point in time in her life. And I’m like, no, it’s not how this works Ellie.

Ellie: Yeah that was a good realization. But also I was kind of like, oh crap. Like, because I got this raise and then I was talking, I think to a coworker and she was telling me that she wants to move kind of like back home to the Midwest and might find a different job, whatever. And I was like, well don’t you think you like aren’t going to find somewhere that pays you this much? And she was like, no, why would I think that? And I was like, oh that’s just me. I just think that I’m not going to find somewhere that pays me this much. So yeah, I have some work to be done on understanding like my actual value in a workplace. But I’m glad that I haven’t let that hold me back even if I’m basically like faking it being like, you should pay me more money. It is a fake until you make it situation for sure. 

Keina: You’re not faking it, you’re doing a great job. I mean even myself, like I have things that I have to work on with my money mindset and being able to put yourself around other women especially who can talk about money and being able, you’re like, okay, they’re doing it well if they can do it, like I can play in the same space as them and just being able to think about how do they think about money that I don’t think about money. And I think like that’s always just an interesting question to ask yourself because when you’re around those types of people that can give you tips and wisdom versus why is it that I think I have to make less, nobody’s even told me that, but like that’s my first thought. And so like that’s a nice thing to like think about because it happens to a lot of us. 

Ellie: Yeah. I would say I have one coworker in particular who she’s like just a year or two older than me and so I can kind of see myself in her and her trajectory. And having her being willing to talk to me about what she makes, how she negotiated with our bosses to get to that point has really been one of the biggest game changers, just in me thinking about what I can do at the firm. Even if I don’t believe I can do it. If she can do it, I’m like, well they probably think I can too. So seeing an example has been huge for me for sure. 

Keina: Well I’m just waiting for an email when you’re like, Keina I’m making over $200,000.

Ellie: That’s alright. I’ll keep you updated.

Keina: Well, what do you think has been like your biggest transformation from coaching? 

Ellie: I think, and maybe this conversation won’t reflect it, but I’ve become much more easygoing about my money because I feel so much more in control like at its foundation. I think that, yeah, being able to talk myself down from like anxiety, I feel about money and say like, no, maybe that was true for you this time last year, but this year it’s not true. And actually like I have all these tools now to fix whatever problem I see myself as being in has been really, really helpful. 

Keina: I love it. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you? 

Ellie: I don’t think so. I think we covered a lot. 

Keina: We did. Thank you. Ellie, I’m going to have to actually meet you in real life because you actually live in DC.

Ellie: I know. Yeah. 

Keina: Every time I think about you, I think about on the map where you are in comparison to myself, but that’s on my bucket list is to do like a DC area meet and greet. That’s what I need to do. 

Ellie: Oh my God, that would be so fun. I’m there if you do it. 

Keina: Yes, I am. One of my other clients, Sophie, she has a, what is an Airstream? She does like, it’s called Toast Worthy. So she does like toasting. So we have like a little party. So if you were listening to this and you’re in DC and you want to be invited, you need to sign up to work with me. Well thank you Ellie, so much for joining me and sharing your story with people. I know everyone will appreciate it. 

Ellie: Yeah, thanks for having me. 

Keina: You’re welcome. 

Keina: Thank you so much for listening to Money Files. If you’re ready to take the next step to reach your financial goals, head to and let’s get started.

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